Hudson woman’s creativity benefits the arts

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Michelle Ciancio of Hudson paints a variety of subjects, including portraits, landscapes and still lifes. Her paintings help raise money for area arts organizations.

HUDSON – What started out as a therapeutic exercise is now benefiting the arts community.

Michelle Ciancio of Hudson said she started painting about 4 ½ years ago, upon the advice of her doctor and her husband’s nudging, when she was struggling with post-partum depression after having her daughter.

“My husband, the sweet guy he was, he bought me an easel, canvases, brushes and paints for Christmas,” Ciancio said. “I first thought he was being silly. How do I paint with a newborn, and no instruction? But when I talked to my doctor, he encouraged me to do it. So I started taking YouTube tutorials on painting.”

Now, when she paints, Ciancio works with the thought of helping others. The pieces she works on benefit charity.

“I’ve always billed myself as a benevolence artist,” said Ciancio, who works as a business community banker. “What I do, I try to transcend kindness.”

Recently, Ciancio had four pieces in an exhibit at Summit Artspace in Akron, Femicentric, which closed Sept. 26. Proceeds from the sale of those pieces went to the Akron Urban League. Two pieces were portraits of African American women.

“The arts are really struggling,” Ciancio said. “As a white American, I feel that it is my responsibility to support the African American community, especially in regards to my work portraying people of color. That’s why I have chosen to donate all proceeds to Akron Urban League.”

In addition, Ciancio said she is working with The Learned Owl in Hudson on a series called the Learned Ladies of Literature, which launched in late August.

The first “Learned Lady” is Louisa May Alcott. Ciancio painted a portrait of the author, best known for writing “Little Women,” with prints selling through The Learned Owl for $15. Proceeds from the sale are going to ArtsNow, which supports arts organizations in Summit County. Ciancio added that she considered Alcott “a personal hero.”

Katherine Schlademan, the owner of The Learned Owl, said that she hopes to work with Ciancio on Learned Ladies of Literature “for about the next six months, maybe more.” As well as the prints, the store will sell the author’s books, with proceeds going to ArtsNow. Schlademan added that the October author will be Toni Morrison.   

““Honestly this was 100% her idea,” Schlademan said. “She is amazing. I’m excited to work with her on this, she has a lot of ideas and talent.”

For details on Ciancio’s work, visit online.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at